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Happens Every Day: An All-Too-True Story
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Happens Every Day: An All-Too-True Story

3.45 of 5 stars 3.45  ·  rating details  ·  3,513 ratings  ·  726 reviews
Isabel Gillies had a wonderful life -- a handsome, intelligent, loving husband; two glorious toddlers; a beautiful house; the time and place to express all her ebullience and affection and optimism. Suddenly, that life was over. Her husband, Josiah, announced that he was leaving her and their two young sons.When Josiah took a teaching job at a Midwestern college, Isabel an ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published March 24th 2009 by Scribner Book Company (first published March 2nd 2009)
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Under the Egg by Laura Marx FitzgeraldFaith by Jennifer HaighAfter Iris by Natasha FarrantHappens Every Day by Isabel GilliesThe Jade Cat by Suzanne Brøgger
4th out of 29 books — 6 voters
Diana by Andrew MortonHollywood Babylon by Kenneth AngerNatalie Wood by Lana WoodThe Royals by Kitty KelleyNatalie and R.J by Warren G. Harris
Get the Dirt!
30th out of 45 books — 15 voters

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Community Reviews

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I read a couple of reviews of this that basically described it as "prom queen chats with you at the high-school reunion, has one too many margaritas, and reveals that her life has gone to shit." So of course I had to read it.

The author is a successful actress who gave up her career because her husband snagged a professorship at a small, elite college in a rural area. The husband abruptly dumped her for another professor, leaving her in the lurch with two small children.

While I feel sad for every
Gillies seems like a sweetheart. She can't write worth a damn, and this book reads like a series of hastily tossed off emails, but that's part of its charm. You feel you're eavesdropping on someone's unpolished, gossipy account of a run-of-the-mill divorce.
I'm starting to feel like the only guy on the planet who's read this book. I thought it was actually pretty good and hard to put down. A lot of people have said the writing is bad- and while it's not Edith Wharton or Henry James, I didn't find the writing bad-- just your average 'every day speak'. For workaday speech, it was fine, cliches and all. I think the point was that it's supposed to feel like someone talking to you, and it does. Additionally, lots of people seem to be dismissing this wom ...more
I was very tired at work because I stayed up too late reading this book. The writing isn't great, but for some reason the book just grabbed me and wouldn't let go. I felt so much sympathy for the author, and believed that I understood what she was going through. I've read comments that said reading this is like watching a train wreck, and I think that's true. You don't want to watch, but you can't help yourself. The fact that the book takes place mostly in Oberlin made it more interesting, too. ...more
I'm so mad. I bought this book based on a couple of good reviews, and because I needed to beef up a B&N order to get the $25 free shipping option. Hey, how bad could it be? Oh, so very, very bad. (If this book was a Dancing With the Stars contestant, it would be Steve Wozniak.) It sounds like it was written by a dim-witted 13-year-old, translated into Basque and then translated back into into English by an internet tool. Here's a sentence from page 16: "I was wholly in love with my life: two ...more
I loved this book. Gillies' voice is honest and funny and just REAL. I listened to it on my iPod and when it was over I was so sad. Especially because she ends it by TOTALLY leaving us wanting more. I hope there is a sequel in the works, like, right now.
The book was terrible, don't let anyone tell you differently. I found the writing to be amateurish at best, the endless references to WASPy catch-phrases like "Cooo Cooo" and "Patati-Patata" to be gag-inducing, and the privileged tone of the author to be patronizing to those of us who are not familiar with Lulu DK fabric or the importance of fresh flowers. For the love of God, I really don't give a shit that your grandfather wrote letters to John Cheever as the voice of a dog (did she steal this ...more
The story of the breakup of a "perfect" marriage written by the wife, Isabel, with striking candor and an amazing ability to transcend her anger and bewilderment. It's the bewilderment that stuck with me: her description of being blindsided by the sudden destruction of her whole life was truly unforgettable. My wife read the book just before I did, and she had no hesitation in laying blame on the husband and his coldly calculating new lover. That's certainly a possible reading, but I found the w ...more
I started reading this book as I was waiting for my chocolate banana vivanno (BTW terrific marketing gimmick, Starbucks!). I was on page 50 by the time I chugged down the last of it and then stood in line for another 10 minutes to buy it because I was by then hooked. Based on Tolstoy's observation that "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way" Gillies' family is so golden and so perfect that even the most unperceptive person would recognize that a train wreck ...more
I am giving this book 2 stars because it was easy and fast to read and get over with. I have a hard time relating to a spoiled rich girl with an easy life before and after her divorce. Sure when your husband leaves you for another woman it is devastating, but when all you have to do is move to your rich parents house on Park Ave, pick up where you left off with all your old loyal friends and spend all summer at the beach in Maine, sorry, no sympathy here. I mean who goes around crying and tellin ...more
Not the best writing ever, but Gillies is not a writer by trade. She is, in fact, the actress who plays Detective Stabler's wife on Law and Order:SVU. I picked up this book because I'm a fan of the show and about to get married, and thus reading lots of things about marriage. Again, while the writing is not technically fabulous, Gillies describes her thoughts, feelings, and surroundings in a really evocative way. This book is a fascinating look at a marriage falling apart. I really enjoyed it.
Uwe Hook
Don't bother touching this book.

Other than the author's knowledge of expensive fabrics and fashion, I found little self-examination from her as to the "root" of the problems in her marriage. After all, what man would want to leave a perfectly decorated house? Because of this lack of introspection, I finished the book with more judgments than understanding.
I kept wondering about the "other side" but something tells me the ex has too much class to respond. And unfortunately for him, (and his all-t
Ellen Puccinelli
I see a couple of other brave individuals down there who went out on a limb to give this book a five-star rating, although I note that the vast majority of reviewers took Isabel Gillies to task for her inability to write. I must say I do not agree. I find this author/actress's style perfectly detailed and immensely readable. At her best, Gillies reminds me of Suzanne Finnamore on a softer, gentler day. She does make writing look easy, though, and I did finish the book feeling that Isable and I w ...more
I'm a little ashamed of myself for finishing this book, because it was really awful in every way. Isabel Gilles chronicles the sudden unraveling of her marriage when her husband decides he doesn't love her anymore and wants out, all the while denying the affair Isabel suspects him of having with a colleague.

Gilles states right at the beginning that she is not a writer, and she is correct. She writes like she is chatting with a girlfriend on the phone while being distracted by her toddlers, all r
Surprisingly moving, a very interesting portrait of academic life, and when you put it down, the realization of a very subtle revenge.
She is not a quote unquote writer, but in some ways that is refreshing. Her style is very unaffected and flows along and pulls you right along, too. I read this book in about two sittings. It's just a story about a marriage breaking up b/c of an affair and I don't know that she says anything profound or that her experience is much different than others. Here are some quotes from it. She's funny a lot:

"I wish I were the confident, cool person who can handle women from the past in an unruffled, gr
Well, as advertised on the cover, I did indeed stay up all night to finish this memoir. Gillies tells a whopper of a story--her super-hot, super adoring poetry professor hubby leaves her almost completely out of the blue for a colleague he's known for 30 seconds. He is, quite simply, a total loser with a messed-up head. But Gillies takes the high road, saying she'd rather light a candle than wallow in the dark or something like that. And I mostly applaud her for that because she has young childr ...more
Bonnie Brody
Isabel Gillies has written an 'oh, so quaint' and shallow memoir of her divorce. You might know her from the role she plays on 'Law and Order: Special Victims Unit' as Kathleen, the wife of Detective Eliot Stabler. In this memoir Ms. Gillies tries to portray the events that led up to her husband's leaving her along with her own feelings about the divorce.

Ms. Gillies focuses on the surface ornamentations of life such as designer clothing, expensive home decorations and WASPiness, rarely looking d
The fact is, affairs and marriage break ups occur every day (thus the title "happens every day"). So, why the book? To get back at her husband of course! The book was self-indulgent and I couldn't get past the "I only care about what happens to my children" sentiments; here's a clue: if you care about your children (who are still very small) you don't write a book about your divorce with their father that someday they will be able to read. You just don't do it.

The author had horrible biases abou
My sister loaned me this book just as I was leaving to head home after Christmas. She nodded in approval, "Oh yes, it's very good...all my friends who borrow it really love it." Well add another fan to the list. This best-selling memoir by actress Isabel Gillies could have been just another "poor me," self-indulgent book by a semi-famous New Yorker (she played Detectiv Stabler's wife on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit for years. This, however, is the story of her own seemingly perfect marria ...more
“I’m not a writer but I have been told I write good emails, which has led me to…tell this story.” Isabel Gillies is correct, she is not a writer, and It Happens Every Day is pieced together like a long email—conversationally. Her style is an effective illusion of girl talk that allows her to express the disappointment she felt while her marriage to a college poetry professor collapsed. Her story of betrayal is a nightmare for any wife, and many pages are read in absolute dread of the known outco ...more
Amy Gray
Wow. I read this straight through and stayed up until the wee hours because I couldn't put it down. The reader knows the basic plot (guy abruptly leaves wife and two small children for woman he barely knows) going in, but still, it's a shock to read how it all played out. The whole thing was even more interesting to me because we live not too far from Oberlin, and I recognized many of the locations in the book: the Sears in Elyria where Gillies' ex-husband shopped for appliances is the same one ...more
I read this book and only one word can describe this book: OUCH. The author Isabel Gillies describes in brutally honest detail the demise of her marriage to a college professor. She appeared to have the perfect life: handsome, brilliant husband, two beautiful boys, a beautiful old house and the good life in a small college town. Into the picture comes a new female professor in her husband's department whom Ms Gillies embraces as a new found friend and within 6 weeks, her marriage is destroyed an ...more
Gillies crafts a riveting memoir about the unraveling of her life as a faculty wife at Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio. Maybe it's because I work at a small college extremely similar to Oberlin, but this was one juicy read. She is married to "Josiah," a poetry scholar who moves the family (they have two young sons) to Oberlin from the East Coast. (Isabel left a recurring role on the TV show "Law and Order.") They settle in, buy a beautiful old home, make friends with other professors, revel in th ...more
Melly Fischer
I think many women will ask themselves the same questions I asked myself while reading this book: "When is the part where she gets her revenge? She's going to give her lying-sack-of-shit husband a piece of her mind in this next chapter, right? Now, she's not going to just sit back while he sabotages her entire life, is she?"

If you've ever watched Law & Order SVU, you'll instantly recognize Gillies from her photo because she played Detective Stabler's gritty, somewhat broken down wife. Gawd h
May 28, 2009 Cari added it
So this is progress, I'm ready to read a book about Divorce. One that doesn't just skirt the issue - but GOES THERE, you know? Kinda helps me sort it all through.

People/authors are so afraid to talk about it, afraid to incriminate the other party {which the author doesn't do, so far}, afraid to own their own and afraid their friends won't be right there at their side. And you know what - sometimes friends aren't, and sometimes people disappoint you - and sometimes Divorce happens. And, on the f
This book is really sad. You're right there with this family as it splits. The narrator/author is kind of annoying but in an honest way, which illustrates perfectly what her husband had to deal with being married to her. It's nice that she didn't sugar coat her own behavior (at least it doesn't seem like she sugar coated it). Reading this is like knowing the train you are on is going to crash, and you're just watching and waiting for it to happen. Sad.

Okay, done. It was good. Easy read. Quick.
So I highly recommend this book for any women that has gone through a divorce. No matter whether it was what you wanted or if you were blind sighted and fighting for your marriage it holds true.
The emotions are raw and real on how one would feel and what good and bad things one does all in an effort to try to overcome the failure of a marriage.
I so related to a few sections of this book, there were at least 2 paragraphs that I felt like were words from my own journal in my head of the last 2 yea
Julie Stevenson
This is the second time that I have read this book. Isabel illustrates her story very well - you feel like you are right there with her experiencing the breakdown and eventual demise of her marriage. There are some very desperate parts in the book (at least to me), but they likely replicate how some women might react.

I enjoy the detail in her story and the way she describes her life. Definitely a great and quick read!
This was another entitled woman's book that Amazon describes as "far from a self-pitying diatribe." I thought it was exactly that. Details are supposed add to a book but in this case, they were just irritating. She talked about "William Morris" wallpaper and some type of striped fabric (that apparently I'm not well-bred enough to even get the worth of) with an emotion of value then loss that was stultifying.

I can say this book was a fast read and Gillies did create good tension. It's just that
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Isabel Gillies, a lifelong New Yorker and actress for many years, is the New York Times best selling author of Happens Every Day, A Year and Six Seconds and the upcoming Starry Night (FSG), a young adult novel about first love. Her work has been published in Vogue, The New York Times, Real Simple, Cosmopolitan and Saveur. She lives in Manhattan with her husband, kids and Maude the dog. ...more
More about Isabel Gillies...
A Year and Six Seconds: A Memoir of Stumbling from Heartbreak to Happiness Starry Night: A Novel Cosmopolitan: The Magic of Oils Starry Night, Free Chapter Sampler

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“I believe in love. I believe in hard times and love winning. I believe marriage is hard. I believe people make mistakes. I believe people can want two things at once. I believe people are selfish and generous at the same time. I believe very few people want to hurt others. I believe that you can be surprised by life. I believe in happy endings.” 196 likes
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